This is Part 3 in a week-long series of posts written by a Wheelock College Social Work faculty member and two Masters in Social Work graduate students in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. View previous posts in this series – Part 1, Part 2.
*Trigger warning: some of this article may include descriptions of domestic violence that could be distressing for some readers
Another recent survivor shared her story of judgment from others around her that the situation was her fault, and questioned how she could have stayed so long. This survivor recently made the decision to escape her abusive partner who not only was abusing her, but her daughter as well. When she would try to leave, he would threaten her and display his weapon that he threatened her with, as well as threatening to further abuse their child. He would tell her if she called the police or reported him that he would kill her. He told her he had friends that would also hurt her if he were arrested. He constantly told her she was crazy for years, and eventually she believed it. They had a nice home, her daughter was involved in a prodigious school, and they had friends nearby. This survivor wanted to call authorities on a daily basis but because he threatened her and their daughter, she believed this would make her desperate situation worse. Fortunately after some time, she was able to connect with a family member in Massachusetts and over a few weeks was able to leave while the abuser was working, taking immense risk. Notably, the risk of him finding her is still possible and she questions her decision to leave often.
As stated previously, when a survivor leaves an abusive relationship they are the most vulnerable. She currently is living in fear that not only will he find her, but harm both her and their daughter. She has no money because he had full control of their finances, and she was not allowed to have a job. During our conversations she also shared that it is so hard to give up everything you worked your whole life for, such as having a nice house and family, and it takes so much to give that up when one begins to contemplate leaving. She stated her daughter often asks for her father, her neighbors who she used to play with, and misses the lawn she could run around in. She misses her school and at this time is too young to understand what the circumstances were for moving. This survivor is struggling with what she had to abandon. Also she is still continuing to live in fear of the unknown of what is going to happen next and questions to herself: “Is he going to find us? Are we finally safe here? Will I be able to provide for my daughter on my own?”
Wheelock College MSW Candidate